Thursday, December 30, 2010

End-Users Are Getting Smarter

We know that the end-user is getting smarter. The exposure to computing and applications at a very early age is at an all time high. That knowledge brings different expectations.

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The question becomes how does the modern IT shop deal with this? The answer is drum roll please ...... Cloud Computing. Ha just kidding with you. The answer is actually there isn't any one answer.

The issues facing the modern IT shop due to the increasing intelligence of the average end-user are multifaceted. There are data issues, security issues, interaction issues, privacy issues, usage issues, maintainability issues and the list goes on. Certainly some of the traditional ways of dealing with these issues will still apply but I think new ways of thinking are needed for the "IT Shop" to stay relevant.

First it's important to understand that we are dealing with evolution and not revolution. The evolution we are discussing is happening but not overnight. This is not a dinosaur extinction event yet. Here are a few thoughts on not only survival but on thriving as an IT community.

-IT quit using the term "the business". I cringe every time I hear someone in "IT" say "the business" wants this or "the business" needs that. You are the business, start acting like it.

-End-users aren't dumb, stop treating them that way. Talk to them, listen when they speak and realize you are all in the same boat wanting the same thing.

-Waterfall is dead, it was hit by an asteroid. Stop trying to use it and move on for Pete's sake.

-Cloud computing is for real but it's not for everything. Learn how to leverage it for the right things and make sure your end-users aren't leveraging for the wrong things.

-In a complete contradiction to the above suggestion, you will almost certainly lose control of your data at some point. Figure out how to deal with that eventuality.

-Social networking is not only not going to go away it's going to get a lot bigger. The key point here is that it really doesn't matter whether you get it or not, the end-users do and they are going to want more of it. Learn to deal with it least you become a target of that asteroid.

-Security has to move out of the I hate to have to deal with security to being at the forefront of all things. End-users even though smart have to be educated even more on data security.

-IT Developers, you going to hate this but you are more valuable the less code you write. Learn about SOA, embrace reuse. Learn and use tools that help you achieve this. There are jobs out there for code jockeys but the IT shop generally isn't it anymore.

The modern end-user is smart and very comfortable with technology. To keep up the "IT Shop" must embrace this.

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Cloud Stuff - Did you get the source code?

David Linthicum's recent post on cloud providers dropping either user sites or applications reminded me of the old vendor source code negotiations. The basic premise is before purchasing a really expensive piece of software you got the vendor to agree to give you the source code in the event they go out of business. This was suppose to alleviate some of the fears of the big check that was about to be written. The vendor goes out of business you still have working software plus the source code(No I don't know what you would do with it).

The cloud has changed the game. Not only do you not get the source code, the vendor can turn you off in an instance leaving you with no working software at all. As David points out, getting vendors to sign SLAs that help you more than them is pretty tough. This obviously is cause for concern with a lot of IT organizations consider moving applications, services and infrastructure to the cloud. Of course there are tons of ways to mediate all of this and still take advantage of what the cloud has to offer. Things such as SOA, Governance, EA and even the old EAI(Practice not the platform) standby all still apply when designing for the cloud(location independence takes on a more significant role).

The take home message is get out in front and don't throw good architecture practices out the window because there is something shiny and new out there. The cloud demands your architecture be more sound than ever.